Current US Congressional debate will impact the future of the Internet with Net Neutrality opponents claiming that the FCC has overstepped its bounds of regulation and should rely on the antitrust laws. My recent eCommerce Times column entitled “Net Neutrality in a Nutshell” helps put the debate in perspective:

What is Net neutrality?

"Net neutrality" is short for "network neutrality" or "Internet neutrality." The concept addresses user access to the Internet, and the debate around Net neutrality centers on whether ISPs (Internet service providers) can limit, tier, block or otherwise affect Internet performance.

Without Net neutrality, ISPs can even charge higher fees for more bandwidth and higher-speed access to one vendor and not others, thus establishing tiers of service. For instance, without Net neutrality, an ISP could sign a lucrative contract with Netflix, then charge lower rates for its customers who use Netflix rather than Blockbuster.

Or, if an ISP preferred (e.g. had a financial interest in) one search engine over another, that ISP could force its customers to the preferred search engine by charging customers more each time they used any other search engine.

What do you think? Should the FCC regulate the Internet or not?

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